China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Coal is used for 70 percent of China’s energy. However, the vice-chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, Zhang Xiaoqiang, recently told the London newspaper, the Telegraph that China is serious about developing renewable energy. “We are now formulating a plan for development of renewable energy. We can be sure we will exceed the 15 per cent target. We will at least reach 18 per cent. Personally I think we could reach the target of having renewables provide 20 per cent of total energy consumption.”
Earlier this month the deputy head of the National Energy Administration, Liu Qi announced the preliminary draft for China’s energy stimulus plan was completed. No other details were given, but geothermal heating will surely be included in the stimulus plan, which will help China meet its goals of increasing its renewable energy use to ten percent by 2010 from 7.5 percent in 2005.
China has vast geothermal reserves, with 5,500 geothermal locations and 45 geothermal fields. China has an installed capacity of 30.4 MW of geothermal power, and plans to develop 750 MW by 2020.
Beijing is the second largest Chinese city, and has geothermal resources whose water is 60 to 70 degrees Celsius. The city has many hot springs and spas as a result, and 300 deep wells that provide heat for buildings. About 20 new deep wells are drilled a year to heat buildings. In 2007, 10.5 million square meters of building space in Beijing used ground source heat. The government plans to expand it to 35 million square meters by 2010.
Watch the following video about Beijing’s use of geothermal:
China’s first geothermal heated city
In 2006, a geothermal heating utility opened in the ancient Chinese city of Xianyang. The utility was the first project of Shaanxi Green Energy, joint venture of Shaanxi Geothermal Energy Development Co. Ltd. and the Icelandic company, Enex. It provides heat for three of the city’s colleges, which previously were heated by coal.
Shaanxi Green Energy now operates five heat centrals and seven geothermal wells, which heat a 630,000 square mile area, and is expanding the geothermal heating to over 1,000,000 square miles of housing. The goal is to expand geothermal heat to 10 to 15 million square miles in Xianyang by 2015. If the goal is reached, it will make the city the third largest geothermal district heating system in the world, bypassing even Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. Geothermal energy supplies 26 percent of Iceland’s energy needs.
After the geothermal utility opened in 2006, Iceland’s then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Valgerdur Sverrisd√≥ttir proudly noted in a statement that “Icelandic knowledge is contributing to keeping Chinese households warm.” He added, “It is indeed humbling to know that the development of pollution free and sustainable energy resources for heating purposes in China has significant implications not only for China’s energy policy, but also worldwide.”